Chapter 2. Basic System Board Setup

Introduction: Hacks #11-18

This chapter covers the things the BIOS was meant to do—detect and configure devices that interact with the core PC, basic input and output (I/O) devices, and connections to the outside world. You will also see emphasis on when it makes sense to switch from older I/O devices to new.

You’re on a mission to ensure that PCs are properly configured, and you need to be armed with the knowledge and tools to carry out that mission. If you fail, you may lose any chance of improving the performance and capabilities of your PC and all further hacks may be a waste of time.

I/O devices are either contained within the system board or are optional devices plugged into slots or external interfaces connected to the system board. Their misconfiguration can interfere with more essential functions, such as those of the disk drive, display, keyboard, and mouse.

Unless you’re tinkering with a really old XT- or AT-style system board (see Figure 2-1), your PC is probably built around an all-in-one ATX-style system board with an Intel Celeron; Pentium I, II, III, or 4; or AMD Athlon or Duron CPU. It probably provides the basic I/O ports: PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, USB ports, at least one serial/COM port , and a parallel/LPT port. If it’s a legacy-free system, it may only have USB and perhaps FireWire (IEEE 1394) ports. Various system boards include built-in sound, video, or Ethernet adapters too—lacking only a disk drive, monitor, keyboard, ...

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